In the poem "Song of the Open Road" by Walt Whitman, What does the 'road' stand for in the poem?

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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In this poem Whitman celebrates the out-of-doors, and the road in particular, as a space where men can come together in a meaningful way, where status and social markers matter less. A road is something everyone uses, whether they are rich or poor, and it forces all levels of people to associate with one another. The road, furthermore, signifies mobility: one can take the road to somewhere new, and in America that means somewhere one can start over. For Whitman, too, the road is a space for gathering the material for poetry. As he travels along it, he sees a variety of people and places, and hears a plethora of stories. He argues against staying in one place for too long, although the hospitality may be a lure, for only the tests of the open road will do.

The road is a symbol of a democratic and vital society that just happens to make for good poetry.

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